PORTERVILLE, Calif. (KFSN) --Thursday night, a Porterville family continues to mourn the death of a four-year-old child, allegedly killed by her aunt. Sophia Caraveo died Tuesday morning.
Later that day, Porterville police detectives arrested the child's aunt, Santa Pablo, whom they say suffocated Sophia to death. She made her first court appearance Thursday.
The 20-year-old Porterville woman was read the charges she now faces during an arraignment at the Tulare County pre-trial facility: one count of murder, and one count of child abuse resulting in the death of four-year-old Sophia Caraveo, her niece.
"It's a double pain, a double loss, I have to be strong for both of my daughters," said Dora Coronado.
Coronado is the mother of both Pablo and Sophia's mother-who she says is struggling to cope with the death of her daughter.
"Sophia was the sun, she would brighten up everybody's world," Coronado said.
Tuesday morning, Porterville Police responded to Coronado's home on G Street--Sophia had spent the night there.
Sophia was not breathing, and despite lifesaving efforts, she died at the scene. Later, police gathered evidence and interviewed family members, and determined Pablo suffocated the child to death.
"The people who truly know Santa, know what Sophia meant to her," Coronado said. "That was her child too."
Coronado says knew her daughter had mental health issues, and was trying to get her help, but didn't know just how sick she was.
While the family waits for answers, Coronado cautions people not to judge her family, even though some already have. She says Sophia's death is a tragedy that has affected them all.
"The only thing I can say is Santa was Sophia's other mother, from (an) infant to two years (old)," Coronado said. 'She raised her, I raised her, (my other daughter) raised her, we've always been a united family."
Coronado says the family will hold a candlelight vigil for Sophia tonight. Pablo is being held without bail. Her next court appearance is in Porterville on April 17th at 8:30 a.m.